Maintaining Your Sanity on the Road:
4 Steps to a Fun Family Vacation
Traveling with your family always sounds like a good idea, but tantruming tots and bad-tempered teens can ruin your trip before you’re even far from home. Here are four steps to make sure you have a fun time no matter who is going with you!
Step 1: Prepare in Advance
Just like preparing your luggage and hotel arrangements, you need to prepare your kids. First-time air flyers will need to understand how security works so they don’t get frightened or frustrated by check-ins.
You also need to prepare for the little things that crop up along the way, for example:
- If you’re driving, plan where to stop for both gas and bathroom breaks. Don’t make your kids hold it in!
- Be sure to check with both your airline and the TSA for rules and regulations of what you can carry on the plane and how to travel with children.
- If you’re going to a foreign country, get passports for everyone in advance, or find out if a birth certificate is enough ID for a little one. Make sure you check the country’s rules on things like car seats and seatbelts. Read more about international travel with kids from Scary Mommy.
Step 2: Stock Your Fun
Before you leave, make sure you have enough entertainment for the children, no matter how old they are.
- Each child should have their own travel bag or backpack. Learn the best way to organize your entertainment in this post from It’s Always Autumn.
- Bring a tablet and/or smartphone for each child and make sure it is not one you’ll need for travel. Be sure to download games, books, and movies in advance so they access them offline. Also, bring a portable or car charger.
- Have low-tech fun on hand in case the batteries run out. This can include novels, puzzles books, coloring supplies, and mini-games.
Red Tricycle also has a great list of what not to bring, especially if you are packing a car or an RV.
Step 3: Bring Healthy Foods in Creative Ways
Packing your own food for a road trip will minimize stops, expense, and eating junk. The key is to make fun items so your kids will enjoy eating in the car. Here are some car-friendly items we recommend:
- Make a cute bento box lunch for the little ones and a protein box for your teens. Here are some bento ideas from Happiness Is Homemade.
- Pack up PB&J sandwiches. Have the kids make them. If they agree, change up the nut butters, the jelly, or add banana slices instead.
- Always take along healthy hand-sized snacks like grapes, baby carrots, crackers and hummus, etc.
- Make a wrap instead of regular sandwiches. Wrap it in parchment to give them that “fast food” feel.
Step 4: Take Your Time
Vacationing with your kids is not a time to waste posting family selfies. Instead, take the time to smell the roses and make memories with these tips:
- Use driving time to have fun as a family. Check out this list of fun and classic road trip games from Edmunds.
- Brings songs that call up fun memories — bonus points if your family has an “anthem” that everyone knows!
- If you’re driving, don’t just stop for the bathroom. Take the scenic route and take photos along the drive.
- Anything can be an opportunity for a memory, even mishaps. Take photos if it’s the first time at the airport… or the first time you wind up at the first aid station!
To make sure you haven’t missed anything while planning your trip, download this checklist from Parents.com that covers all your family travel needs.
Traveling to your destination can be just as fun as your arrival as long as you plan in advance. A fun time is more likely when you do!